Brogan McKinnon of Mississauga, Ont., shot a six-under 66 on Tuesday and leads the second stage of LPGA Tour qualifying school by three shots after the first round at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Fla.
“I putted well. Putting was the big difference,” said McKinnon, who played in seven Symetra Tour events and one LPGA Tour event, Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, in 2014. “I didn’t really miss any that I should have made.”
McKinnon, 19, started with back-to-back birdies on the third and fourth holes and then closed the front nine with birdies on three of her final four holes.
She bogeyed the par-four 10th, but closed with birdies on the 16th and 18th holes.
Two weeks ago, McKinnon had to withdraw from the Symetra Tour Championship after two rounds because of a skimboarding accident.
She went skimboarding on the Friday night in Daytona Beach after her second round and the accident left the top of her right foot severely swollen and scraped.
“I couldn’t walk, I limped into the mobile office and told (a tournament official) I had to WD. Then, I had to take six days off to rest my foot,” she said.
The skimboarding accident wasn’t the first time McKinnon has been on the sidelines this year. She forced herself to leave the game in late June.
“I didn’t touch a club (from the end of June until a week before the Symetra Tour Championship in late September),” she said.
“I didn’t like it out here. I was really struggling. I’m only 19-years-old and I didn’t go to school. I was driving tournament to tournament and I don’t really have any friends out here to talk to and it was super lonely,” said the home-schooled McKinnon.
“It was tough to be out here every week, especially when you’re not playing well,” she added. “I just wanted to figure out if I really wanted to play golf. “
Two months later, she made up her mind.
“One night, I just said that I have to go play because I’m not going to get any better sitting at home. Now, I’m hitting the ball as well as I ever have,” she said.
McKinnon credits her boyfriend, Wilson Bateman, who plays on PGA Tour Canada with helping her get the putter ready.
“He has probably spent six hours with me on the putting green just this week,” she said.
“I couldn’t hit balls because of the injury so I have just been putting. I changed everything – my stroke, my putter and my set-up and it definitely paid off today,” said McKinnon, who has a unique way of looking at her injury.
“It was definitely a blessing in disguise messing my foot up because all I could do was putt and I needed a lot of work on my putting,” she said.
Golf has always been a major part of McKinnon’s life. She was home-schooled from grade seven forward and did most of her high school studies online in order to focus on golf.
For as long as she can remember, the LPGA Tour has been a target.
“I think my game is really close,” she said.
For first round scores, click here.